Should I or Shouldn’t I? Europe Questions.

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I made up this dress for our upcoming honeymoon as a cycling dress. This is my ‘I’m going to wear it anyway’  test run. The fabric isn’t as beefy as I would like it to be. And, my other two versions from a sturdier ‘dry flex’ will fare better I think. Please ignore the Star Trek vibe. I think it’s the colors in addition to the design (which is Burdastyle 7-2014-113).

Anywho, I’ve been trying to decide if I want to cover stitch the seams. Partly for a sportier look. And, also because these serged seams are just not laying flat! I’ve never really done the ‘reverse’ / decorative three needle top stitch to show on  the outside before. The two dresses I’m working on now (which are the same) are done entirely on the sewing machine instead of the serger.

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Here are my questions:

1. Would it be too sporty looking to add the coverstitching? There are a lot of seams here. I mean, people don’t really wear bike gear in the Netherlands. But, I want something wicking, easy to wash and light to pack. Plus, we bike for one week and travel another week. So, I would like to also wear these as ‘regular’ dresses too.

2. Umm, how do I do it? Do I need wooly nylon? I think I do. What I see on my RTW jacket with this look seems thicker than thread. Do I put it in the loopers? Or in the three needles? Should I have had the seams on the outside and then done the coverstitching? Is that the way people claim their sports gear is ‘seamless’ or ‘irritation free’?

3. Should I pack rain gear? I ask because Jordan doesn’t have any and I’m not sure my rain pants from last time still fit me. All I can figure out is that weather is unpredictable in Europe.  I’m running out of weekends to sew…

4. Is saying ‘Europe Questions’ like saying ‘Questions about Africa?” If so… whoops. Please tell me though so I know for the future.


The Right Measure

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I no longer hate my blue and pink polka dot tunic. Why? Well, I finally broke down and got measured for new bras this weekend.
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And, my new size has made a world of difference.  I don’t think I look AS pregnant. The FBA I made fits much better now. And, with this new size there is more space between my stomach and my bust.
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I also added more shirring to try and balance out my uneven shirring. It’s still not perfect, but better (at least I think so!)

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This photo is meant to show you the shirring. Not my bust. But, as I’m between home computers and posting from a tablet, I can’t crop!! So, please forgive the bust eyeful and focus on the underbust.

Never underestimate the power of a good bra and the magic closet.

BWOF 11-2007 #107 : Pink and Cream Seersucker Cross Dart Dress

Oh, hey.



I don’t know know that there is a seersucker I don’t like.  I started this dress almost two months ago to wear to a summer ‘picnic wedding’ in upstate NY where the dress was ‘summer semi-formal’. I didn’t get it done in time :-(

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My sewing of this dress greatly benefited from having lots of extra fabric. I had to recut the bodice three time due to incredible user error. I first used this seersucker to make a sailor-inspired skirt two years ago. The fabric is kind of see through, so this time I underlined the bodice with cotton batiste.

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I’ve wanted to make this dress since it came out in 2007. I thought the bodice darts were so interesting. Add a full pleated skirt and it’s totally speaking my language.



Not only did I need an FBA, I had to move the darts down a good 1.5 inches too in addition to changing the angle of the darts downward. So, while it doesn’t look exactly like the original, it fits and flatters me so much better.

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Like a dolt, I sewed up the shoulders and sides before remembering the correct sleeveless construction order. That meant I needed to use a bit of bias at the neckline so I could clean finish everything. This would have also looked awesome if I’d used the binding at the armholes too (thought for next time).

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The inside of this dress is really my favorite. I used the time consuming but my favorite method: facing lining combo.  I drafted the bodice lining using the included facing. I looks so ready to wear to me! It’s much more work, but worth the effort I think. There is no peeping out of lining from the sleeves or neckline this way.

I used ALL the machines on this dress. Sewn up on my Bernina 830 using the AMAZING invisible zipper foot.

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Seriously. Perfect insertion every time. I hate to admit that this sucker was worth the $40.

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The hem of the lining is made with my Brother Coverstitch (my new favorite way to do lining).


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And the hem of the dress itself is secured with rayon tape and my Japanese-made  blind hemmer (using the invisible thread).

Seriously. All. The. Machines.

I think this dress would benefit from a belt. But, I don’t have one that works. Yet. I’m thinking a pale blue or teal? I would also make the tulle underskirt if I need this for dress up rather than work.

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Overall, I’m meh on the dress. I put a ton of effort in to it. But, I really don’t like it on me. On the dressform it’s rocking. But, the proportions are ever so slightly off on me and I look like a rectangle.  I’m sorry it didn’t make it to the wedding as thematically it was perfect. I am just off my sewing game as of late. I have one more skirt to post that I made a few weeks ago and I’ll be caught up in project back log.

BurdaStyle 5-2010 #104: The Accidental Maternity Top

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I bought this delightful silk / cotton fabric from Mood four years ago when I was in NY for the Met / Brooklyn Museum High Style exhibition. I’ve really, truly, hoarded it looking for the right pattern. This fabric was everything to me. It’s got polka dots, has contrast, and has pink. And, to me, the pink dots remind me of the halo/pink sapphire of my engagement ring. Really, it’s screams my name.

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I didn’t check reviews for this pattern until after it was cut and I was sewing. Imagine my delight  (read: here horror) when I saw every review made it up AS A MATERNITY TOP. There’s a reason for that. I look three months pregnant. And, I am so not pregnant.

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Now, I like this top. I love the colors. I love that it’s breezy. But, there’s a definite expecting vibe. The pink and blue probably don’t help. What I’m not sure about the material is how ‘secure’ it is. I messaged Peter on Twitter (he made it up into a man skirt) and asked if he secured the seams in any paticular way. The design is loose enough that I’m not straining the seams. That said, I’m being super careful with it: hand wash, careful to take it off and on, etc. Yes, I could have used silk organza in the seams to reinforce… but, I didn’t.

I’m also not modeling it. Why? I don’t have any bottoms that ‘go’. Yes, I sewed an orphan. But, orphan sewing has stopped me from making the separates I so desperately need. So, I’m going to plow ahead and make separates anyway. Otherwise, I’ll jut never do it.

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For this pattern, I used the shirring method from the Vogue Sewing book. You use elastic thread in your bobbin, secure the ends with hand tied knots, and stitch over those with pink tucks. It’s a’ight. I’ve never shirred before so I’m glad I got to try it out. Not my greatest work. But, you have to try something to learn something.

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On the neckline, I used bias trip to create some interest. And, sewed up the V a bit for modesty’s sake (i.e. no cleavage in the office). I also took the sleeves from the dress version rather than the strips in the tunic top. Oh, I also made a one inch FBA. I think I could have added another 1/2 inch to the length to get it perfectly under the boobage.

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Ok. Now, my shame. The shirring is off center (and kind of sloppy). ARGH. I look at it and all I see is off-center shirring. It’s off by about 1.25 inches. I thought it was centered when I put it together. But, obviously it’s not.  Jordan assures me when on it’s not noticeable. Mostly, because I look pregnant. His words. Not mine.  I’ll be honest with you, it’s bad, but I have no interest in taking it apart and fixing. Mostly because I just don’t think the fabric can handle it.

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Nice enough top. Probably better for maternity.  Not my greatest work. Saved by my absolute unabated love of the print. I’ll wear it while I can. Hopefully, the material is stronger than I’m giving it credit for.

Youse guys! I have a new job that I start next week.  The thing is, I’m going from a strictly businesses dress/ political gig  for pretty much my entire career to a totally casual private sector job.  I mean, we had a strict dress code at my high school. I remember being absolutely startled when a mid 20s guy I was dating didn’t own a suit (we went to church every weekend growing up in clothes that didn’t get worn the rest of the week). Top ten embarrassing moment  was the Executive Producer at the Washington TV station I was interning at pulling me aside to say my knee-length short suit with blazer from Dress Barn was not appropriate for work and she wasn’t comfortable sending me to a press conference  on the Hill. I was mortified. I am super conscious of what I wear to work.

It was bizarre to me that this feels like an existential crisis. I’d actually had this post queued up for over a month now. But, worried I sounded crazy for not knowing what to wear to work or feeling weird about not being in business dress. Now, I  feel in good company! I read Audrey’s post last night about her office going to casual wear. In my position the last year, I was the one who instituted a business casual dress code (no jeans, flip flops) and people damn near revolted.  I still stayed business (dresses, occasional suit). Because, I’ve always had to dress up for work. Now, I don’t want to be the most overdressed person in the office. But, I also totally can’t get with shorts and jeans.

Robin and I talked about this a little (since new job is practically in the parking lot of her development) and we both think we couldn’t do totally casual. I’ve been home the last week sewing for the new job and just trying to take a mental health break. I’ve completed a dress, skirt and tunic. I plan to trace out three more items and sew at least one more before I start working again. The all-to-me sewing time is unbeatable!

Charles James at the Met and Loving The Garment District

Yesterday, I met up with Claudine to see the Charles James exhibit at the Met in NYC. Friends, it was breathtaking. The last time I went to the Costume Institute was in July 2010 for the American Style exhibit. I think Brooklyn has a better display space, but the Met has more space. The exhibition made amazing use of technology to show you how dresses were constructed and the pattern pieces used in them. No photos allowed. But, I did buy the accompanying book. From Amazon. It was $15 less and I didn’t have to haul five pounds through the city for the rest of the day. Plus, it arrived this afternoon! I totally now regret not getting the hardback version of American Style four years ago.

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If you get a chance, please do go see the show. It closes in August and was worth the ‘recommended’ admission of $25. And, going on a Thursday was ideal! It had plenty of people but neither the subway/ busses nor streets were packed. I’m so lucky I can get there to see great things like this in a day.

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I did go into the Garment District. But, really, it was just to pick up a few supplies I needed for upcoming projects. I also wanted to step in some stores I don’t often go to. In the past, Mood took up most of my shopping time.  And, the organization there has spoked me I think. This time, I went to Chic Fabric, SIL Thread, Pacific Trim and Fabric Fabric (formerly Lace Star).

I think, in some ways, I’m ‘over’ the Garment District. Now, hear me out! The garment district has my heart. But, it’s packed, crowded, and expensive. I think for regular shopping I prefer places with a curated collection and better prices.

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Now, I did pay $30 for one yard of that silk pink taffeta at Fabric Fabric because it was exactly what I wanted for an upcoming project. And, that’s what NYC fabric shopping is good for. You just cannot find the breadth of notions and findings anywhere else.

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I was super excited to find loads of ribbing and collars for polo shirts at Pacific Trim. You can’t find that stuff on line! I didn’t actually buy any. But, at least I know where to find it!

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I saw this black and cream silk jersey for $38 a yard that I paid $14 a yard for at SR Harris in Minnesota. Yes, I know it’s NY. But, I just wanted to point out that the prices aren’t always better and where they excel is the selection, options and findings. Plus, you really have to shop around / go to lots of stores and it can be tiring. I think if I had the leisure of strolling there for specific items easily, it would always be my favorite place to shop.

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So, I’m back home today and have a completed project (that was due well over a month ago), an in progress tunic from four year old silk, and in in progress skirt from week-old linen. Hopefully some photos over the weekend.

Gathering With an Embroidery Foot

You’ll notice, I think, that I never do tutorials anymore on my blog. Why? It’s not only because I’m lazy and not an expert. But, in this current blogging environment, I have neither the time, energy or temperament to set myself up for comments about not knowing what I’m doing. Y’all. I sew for fun. I leave the tutes to those with brass balls and skills. But, I’m not above demo-ing a trick or two.

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If there is one thing I dislike doing, it’s gathering material using two rows of stitching.  My Bernina 830 came with several feet, including this 030 embroidery foot (now sold as #6 both old and new style methinks). The foot comes with an hole in it and according to my manual, can be used for gathering. How’s that?

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Using a thicker piece of thread (I used jeans top stitching thread) you are able to zig zag over the thread.

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Then you pull the long straight thread and the fabric gathers.

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I realize that Christina told me years ago I could do this with yard or elastic thread. But, I never bothered until now. The foot is nice because I don’t really have to focus too hard on not hitting my main thread with the needle while zig zagging.

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So, I realize the Bernina feet are crazy expensive compared to low shank feet. But, there really are some nice features they have that can make your sewing easier. Plus, I’m all about specialized gadgets and driving European cars. I’m pretty sure there’s a good analogy in there somewhere.

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This awesome drawer insert holds my Bernina feet. You can purchase one here. NAYY. Just love the simple solution.

This weekend I also picked up the Bernina invisible zipper foot. It was the foot-of-the-month foot last month. Which made it 25% off the price. I’ve heard really good things about this foot. And, hope it lives up to the hype. I’ll definitely do a little post to compare how it works next week.


Again with the Fabric Organization

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As promised in April for my birthday, Liz came back to help me fold and organize more of my fabric. We put together the second shelving unit, which is narrower than the first but helps fill in the wall almost perfectly. The second shelf on the right holds mostly knits. These include athletic knits (Nike Dri Fit, Under Armour Cold Gear, Suziplex), wool knits, ponte / double knits and some swim knits.

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** Post note: We started cleaning the basement out and I have found another bin of fabric. I literally live in a fabric warehouse.

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I now have a bin of larger scraps to donate to whoever picks them up from Freecycle today. I’m hopeful (and pretty sure) it will be gone by the end of the day! The drawers are still framed with silks and laces. Those will have to wait for another day. All in all, I’d say I’m 2/3 of the way done sorting my fabric and 50% done with getting the room in order. What don’t I ever need more of? Black tricot knit. I found about 20 yards of it all told. I like it for lining knits and athletic wear. So, it appears every time it’s on sale for $1 or $2 a yard I bought five yards of it.

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Liz made use of my giveaway knits and made some headbands for herself on my serger while she was over. I am going to make a sewer out of her if it’s the last thing I do…

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As noted in my last post, I didn’t get my pink seersucker dress done in time for the picnic wedding. I guess I’ve also forgotten how to sew, because I sewed and serged the side and shoulder seams of this lined sleeveless dress. I’m 90 percent sure I’ll course correct with bias binding at the neckline and clean finishing the arms.

Now,  I’m off to the store. I’ve run out of cream thread to sew the lining of the above dress! Also, my invisible zipper foot from Bernina (it was on sale last month) has come in! If you’re interested, the shelves are from Sam’s Club. The narrower one was ordered online. But, as you can see, it didn’t come with five shelves. Just four. So, I need to order a fifth separately.

Exposed Facing Silk Jersey Top: New Look 6648

I’ve been blogging for seven years now and can hardly believe it. Many people I greatly respected when I started blogging no longer blog. And, that’s fine. Life happens. But, thankfully, most have kept their blogs up with old tutorials still available to us. Today, I have to give a nod to Gigi of the Sewing Divas and Gigi Sews / Behind the Seams fame. Not only have I totally copied her 2008 tutorial on adding an exposed facing to this New Look top. I actually used the same fabric in a different colorway from her third iteration.

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This fabric has been in my stash for six years (insert maniacal laugh). And, don’t fret, I also have it in the same rose/ pink colorway that Gigi does. I don’t have terribly much to say about this much reviewed pattern that hasn’t been said before.

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Oddly enough, I made this top six or seven years ago from cotton and gave it to my mom. In a lot of ways I feel like I’m just easing back into sewing after a long break. This seemed like a good palette cleanser.

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Now, I essentially did all of Gigi’s alterations: lowered neckline 1/2 inch, brought in shoulders one inch on each side (I have narrow shoulders) added the exposed facing, removed ruching from waist.

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What I didn’t do (and should have) was take care to match the waistband motif with the bodice. Sadly, the stripes didn’t match up and I didn’t have enough fabric to recut.

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And, I used my coverstitch whenever possible. Here on the sleeve hems and to secure the waistband. I think I HATE having my photos taken for blogging by Jordan and it shows all over my face in these pictures. It feels so awkward! And, I feel like a massive nag by telling him to retake photos, take more than on in each pose, check the exposure, zoom in on this detail of that. Argh. I think I’m just going to stick with my tripod in the future. The tripod does exactly what I want and doesn’t get salty when I give ‘helpful suggestions’.

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I am 100 percent in love with this top and it’s totally luxurious in silk jersey. I was going to use this fabric for the Vogue 1244 dress I just completed and I am so glad I didn’t. I’m all about upgrading my look for a more expensive vibe.

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This past weekend was the wedding weekend I was rabidly sewing for last week (before Minneapolis). Sadly, I didn’t finish my pink seersucker dress. I just didn’t have time! So, I wore a ready to wear one I’ve had for a few years in pink and white houndstooth. No face featured as this was one of the worst sets of photos I’ve ever taken, LOL.

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I’d love to remake this dress (with an FBA). Kindly ignore that fold above my bust.

Also, we traveled with Linus this weekend to upstate NY for the wedding.  He sat on my lap the entire way there and back.

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We also forgot his food bowls. Hence, he drank from the Days Inn ice bucket. Which, is nearly as big as him.  He’s a great dog to travel with. I had no idea!

Fabric Heaven and Minneapolis

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Wearing Vogue 1224 an unblogged Tracy Reese knit dress.

We had a great time in Minneapolis over the long Memorial Day holiday. I was going to bore you twice with two posts about our trip. But, I will just compress it into one. I’m also burying the lede here and telling you that SR Harris Fabric Outlet in Minnesota is the greatest fabric store on earth. Bar. None.

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But, let’s start with the trip. First, I’m embarrassed to admit that All I knew about Minneapolis is that Prince was from there. We went because J.’s law school roommate lives there with his wife and daughter. My only condition when asked if we could go was to not go in winter. For serious.

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Knowing my trepidation, J. pretty much planned the entire trip from the Mall of America visit and Guthrie Theater production to our road trip into Wisconsin and attending a Twins game.

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Above: Vogue 1086 blogged here.  Minneapolis is beautiful!!! It’s incredibly diverse. The food scene is amazing. The biking infrastructure is PHENOMENAL. There really are 10,000 lakes!


There are a dozen museums. Public art is everywhere. The streets are so clean. Midwesterners are so very friendly. The antiques are plentiful. And, best of all, I found the fabric shop of dreams.

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Listen folks. I have been to a lot of fabric stores. I have never been gobsmacked over the size and volume. I planned about one hour at SR Harris fabrics and ONLY went because of emails and comments here that I should stop by. I figured I had seen a lot of fabric and I didn’t need more. I mean, how great could this place be? We got there at 8:30 when they opened and I barely emerged two hours later. I ONLY left because J. was sitting in the car waiting and I thought if I spent any more time it would be a bridge too far.

This place is 30,000 square feet. I barely left the knits aisle. Why? I had a list of things to look for (pique for polo shirts, nylon wovens for men’s swim shorts, brocade for neck ties). But, it was so totally overwhelming I decided to just focus on the gobs of Nike dri fit fabric for honeymoon wardrobe sewing (we’re making a bike trip).

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The fabric selection was extensive as were things like trims, elastic, zippers, etc. And, all the fabric was 50 percent off the marked price. The Dri Fit was about $5 a yard. Five. Dollars. A. Yard.

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I’m already plotting how we can go back so I can buy ALL THE LEATHER. Crap. I think that woman is pointing at the piece I want.

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Here’s one more thing that I did find kind of funny. I hate the way Joanns cuts my fabric. Well, can’t complain about that because you cut all your own fabric at SR Harris.

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Here’s a pic of some of the pieces I got. I hope to sew what I got up very very soon. I bought about 10 cuts.  Jordan will get about five new basic tee shirts in technical fabric. I’ll make some wicking dresses for the bike trip and some pajamas too.

To sum up. If you can get anywhere near the SR Harris Fabric Warehouse in Minnesota, run. Don’t walk. And, plan for several hours. Bring water and trail mix. And maybe bread to leave yourself a trail. I got lost twice. Sadly, not kidding.

Bodice Muslins and Black Tie Weddings

I used to read about women who had a range of clothes in their closet for the different weights they were at. I’d never quite understood that because my weight was fairly consistent. I mean, I would go up in size, but didn’t yo-yo. Right now, I am definitely in a place where 50 percent of my wardrobe doesn’t fit me. I don’t love it. But, I don’t hate myself for it either.

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That said, this left me with a bit of dilemma this sewing weekend. I started on a 2007 Burda pattern that I’m making up for a ‘picnic wedding’ in upstate New York at the end of the month. Now, the old me sewed a 38 with a 1/2  inch FBA. Umm, no.

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The current me, after  FOUR muslins, seems to need a 40 with a 1.25 inch FBA. Heavens.

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Above is the 40 with a .75 inch fba (and the darts lowered and angled differently). I went ahead and added another .5  inch to my pattern because of pulling side seam *only* at the bust and some drag lines at the waist pointing to my bust apex. I didn’t muslin that one. So, let’s hope I don’t have saggy bodice when I’m done!

I’d rather have a dress that fits right ‘now’ than feel uncomfortable in something that’s just too snug and hopeful it will fit later.

So, which body do you sew for? The one you have now? Or the one you kind of want to have back?

Other weekend notes. Black Tie wedding was this weekend. This was the second of two black tie events that prompted J. to just buy a tuxedo instead of renting one twice. I’m still wearing a RTW dress. After these last two formal outings. I don’t know that I’m going to ‘bother’ sewing a formal dress again. I’ve made three formal dresses myself. And, the only home sewn formal dress I’ve come close to getting the same number of compliments as I do in RTW is this silver one. And, I put in a TON OF TIME for a dress that I only wore once.

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I hope to wear my two formals at least two more times. But, for the level of effort vs amount of wear, I’m going to have to go with the under $200 formal on sale rather then making one.  And, I’ll be honest, my RTW formalwear has details and fabric that I can’t do nor afford. And, because I CAN sew, it’s easy for me to make simple alterations to have a custom look. Maybe this will change later on in life. But, for now, it’s not worth it to me to sew these kinds of clothes anymore. What about you? Do you always sew your formals or do buy them?